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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos can’t defend in post in loss at Boise State

ExtraMile Arena at Boise State University on Feb. 23, 2020. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)

BOISE, Idaho — Here are a few extra notes, quotes, videos, tweets, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook that wouldn’t quite fit into print after Sunday’s 74-61 Boise State win over the UNM Lobos:

No post defense

As if you didn’t know, Sunday’s Lobos loss at Boise State was another huge reminder of how different UNM is now compared to that Dec. 4 team that beat Boise State in the Pit.

The Lobos’ lack of a post presence, certainly on the defensive end of the floor, was again all over Sunday’s outcome and has really been a huge void on the team since Carlton Bragg was dismissed on Jan. 12.

While Corey Manigault has been good at times this season since taking over as the primary “5” on the floor since Bragg’s been gone, that hasn’t exactly been the case down the stretch.

Manigault in the team’s current four-game losing streak:
• 8.0 points per game
• 12-of-30 shooting (40.0%)
• 3.0 free throw attempts per game
• 3.3 rebounds per game

More damaging for the Lobos, though, has been the lack of post defense. UNM has often been getting the best effort from walk-on Jordan Arroyo at the position and the continued progression of freshman Emmanuel Kuac.

How badly did the Lobos miss Bragg on Sunday? Let Boise State senior forward R.J. Williams answer that with his statline from both games against the Lobos this season:

• Williams on Dec. 4 (vs. Bragg): 2 points, 3 rebounds, 6 fouls (he got one on a technical after he had already fouled out)

• Williams on Sunday (no Bragg): 27 points, 17 rebounds, 1 foul

“Game 1, obviously, it was a little depressing to watch,” UNM coach Paul Weir said of reviewing game film recently and seeing how much better the Lobos were in the frontcourt vs. Williams with Bragg in the lineup.

“When I watched it, we had a matchup there and obviously took him out of Game 1 and I thought that was the difference in the game. Tonight, we just don’t have an interior player that matches up very well with him, really at either end.”

UNM, which earlier in the season was consistently at or near the top of the national rankings in 2-point shooting percentage and reliance on 2-point field goals, averaged making 22.1 2-point shots through the first 19 games of the season.

After the Bragg DWI arrest on Jan. 12, the Lobos past 11 games have seen the team averaging just 18.3 2-point shots made and that’s been just 16.0 in the current four-game skid (losses at San Diego State, vs. UNLV, vs. Nevada and at Boise State).

That’s about 8 points less per game in the past 11 games and 12 points fewer per game in the past four for the Lobos on 2-pointers, not to mention the dramatic drop-off in free throw attempts the team has had since it hasn’t been able to score so easily near the rim, where most shooting fouls take place.

As far as rebounding, another struggle for the Lobos, Boise State on Sunday scored 19 second chance points off grabbing 13 offensive rebounds, a .371 offensive rebounding rate. On Dec. 4, the Broncos had just seven offensive boards in the Pit for a .241 offensive rebounding rate. The national average is 28.0%.

The gamer

Here is the gamer I filed from the ExtraMile Arena in Boise after Sunday’s game:

On this date

Sunday’s UNM/Boise State game was on the seven-year anniversary of Kendal Williams’ amazing 46-point game at Colorado State in 2013 that essentially wrapped up for the Lobos a league title that season.

In that game, here are the hard-to-believe numbers Williams posted:
• 46 points
• 12-16 FG (10-13 3FG)
• 12-17 FT
• 5 rebounds
• 4 assists
• 33 minutes played (he was in foul trouble)

Here’s a look at that box score from back in 2013:

Gut punch

I don’t know how else to put this other than to just say it.

Lobo basketball is nowhere near what it once was, and it’s not just today, or the Paul Weir era. Boise State’s Sports Information Director posted a postgame note that really put UNM’s place in the league in perspective for a six-year window.

• Boise State has won at least 11 Mountain West games in five of the past six seasons.
• Over the same six seasons, UNM has reached 11 conference wins once.

UNM went 12-6 in the 2017-18 season, Paul Weir’s first season as coach, the season the Lobos were picked to finish 9th in the preseason media poll — the lowest preseason prediction for UNM in more than a decade.

Neither of Weir’s next two seasons (last year and this season) reached 11 wins and none of Craig Neal’s final three seasons hit 11 league wins.

MWC records for UNM in the past six years:

2019-20: 6-10 (two games yet to play)
2018-19: 7-11
2017-18: 12-6
2016-17: 10-8
2015-16: 10-8
2014-15: 7-11

As for the Mountain West Tournament in that span, the Lobos have won three MWC Tournament games (a play-in round win, a quarterfinal win and a semifinal win) in Paul Weir’s first two seasons.

In Craig Neal’s final three seasons, the Lobos were 0-3 in the conference tournament, twice losing in the quarterfinals and once losing in the play-in game against Air Force.

Walk-on getting his dunk on

Jordan Arroyo played really well on Sunday on both ends of the floor. The Atrisco Heritage Academy forward had 4 points on 2-2 shooting in 14 minutes, 14 seconds.

One of his two buckets was this dunk, off a nice feed from JaQuan Lyle in the first half (the PA announcer in Boise announces the dunk as being “No. 33 Kurt Wegscheider.”).

The newbies

There was a lot of inexperience on the court for the Lobos on Sunday throughout the game and with different player combinations. But the lineup on the floor for the final 2:32 of the game probably illustrated the theme of Sunday better than anything.

Here are the five players, for both UNM and Boise State, who were on the court in the final 2:32 with the number of games played this season and the average minutes played in those games:

UNM
• Kurt Wegscheider, freshman (12/2.8)
• Keith McGee, junior (26/16.0)
• Tavian Percy, sophomore (22/10.4)
• Emmanuel Kuach, freshman (16/5.8)
• Jordan Arroyo, sophomore walk-on (11/6.0)

BOISE STATE
• Marcus Dickenson, senior (28/22.8)
• Justinian Jessup, senior (28/36.1)
• Derrick Alston, junior (28/33.3)
• Abu Kigab, junior (16/25.4)
• RJ Williams, senior (28/22.0)

None of that comparison is meant as a knock on the Broncos for keeping players in. The game wasn’t exactly a blowout, despite who the Lobos had on the floor, and it was senior day.

Sunday saw career high minutes played for Wegscheider and Kuac. I thought both played well and Kuac really looked the part of a future solid Mountain West wing. And all five of the Lobos listed above played more minutes than their season averages, several my a significant amount more.

“I think they brought us some energy for sure,” UNM coach Paul Weir said. “It’s not solving our two biggest problems right now, which is defensive rebounding and offensive — a quarterback. Unfortunately, if any of those guys could play those positions, we’d be in great shape. I think even just mixing up the rest of it is something we need to do right now to hopefully inject some energy to maybe overcome some of those deficiencies on the backboard and trying to take care of the basketball offensively.”

Will this be a sign of things to come over the final two regular season games and whatever is yet to come in the MWC Tournament?

“I feel really good about the non-seniors on our roster right now and the trajectory they’re kind of on,” Weir said. “We just have to continue to play them and teach them and give them these experiences.”

Unhappy older brother

Vante Hendrix did not play in Sunday’s game after being one of the players punished last week for missing a team breakfast.

He was also criticized after taking off his jersey and throwing it behind the Lobos bench when he was mad about being substituted for in the first half of last Tuesday’s game against Nevada. It was another embarrassing moment on the court for the Lobos in a nationally-televised game and certainly not the first this season for the fiery Hendrix.

Hendrix, who was suited up and at Sunday’s game, made it clear on social media after the game that he was upset he didn’t get to play if for no other reason than his younger brother is on the Boise State roster and will be eligible to play next season.

Hendrix’s younger brother, Devonaire Doutrive, was at Sunday’s game, but is not yet eligible to play for the Broncos.

Technically speaking

Paul Weir was called for a technical foul on Sunday in a rather key moment with 6:09 left in the game, though he was probably not entirely out of line. In fact, the announced ExtraMile Arena crowd of 5,809 might get the assist for getting unusually quiet in the moment Weir yelled “That’s the same foul!” about an over-the-back foul called on his team one possession and not against the Broncos on the next possession.

Referee Chris Rastatter, on the opposite side of the court as Weir yelled, slapped the third year Lobos coach with the technical foul.

“We made some shots and got it to 6 and it went over the back against us, over the back not against us and I think that swing there — tripled with my technical — it was just a stretch there that we can’t afford to have,” Weir said. “We need those calls to go our way to win a game like this.”

UNM had cut a 16-point lead to 60-54 moments before the tech, but Boise State’s R.J. Williams had just scored four points, including hitting two free throws for the foul Weir was upset about as the same type of play happened to the Lobos with no call.

With two more free throws from Weir’s technical, Boise State then led 66-54 and stopped dead in their tracks and Lobos rally hopes.

“The technical foul, I just said it’s the same call,” Weir said. “I never used any profane language. I didn’t do anything disrespectful to anybody. There was an over the back call against us on our end coupled with one at their end that I thought could have been one involving the same player. We didn’t get the one call. We didn’t get the other call.”

From Idaho Central

I know JaQuan Lyle’s shot selection gets criticized by fans, but Sunday, with the shot clock running down, he let fly a deep 3 from from the Idaho Central Credit Union ad on the court…

It was Lyle’s only made 3 in a 1-for-6 shooting game from beyond the arc.

A number to know: 4

The Lobos lost their fourth consecutive game on Sunday, the longest streak in more than two years.

UNM has also lost nine times in the past 11 games.

Despite finishing below .500 last season at 14-18, the Lobos had no four-game losing streaks. Weir’s first team, which actually finished in third place in the conference in the 2017-18 season, had two four-game skids in non-conference play before things clicked and the team was hot in February and March.

In the Mountain West era, there have been 11 Lobo losing streaks reach four games, but in the 21-years league history, the Lobos have just twice had losing streaks go beyond four games — an eight-game losing streak under Craig Neal in the 2014-15 season (0-for February that season), and the other was a five-game losing streak in the 2006-07 season under Ritchie McKay.

Here is a look at the number of 4-game losing streaks (or greater) in the Mountain West era for the Lobos:

2019-20: 1 (4 games)
2018-19: 0
2017-18: 2 (both 4 games)
2016-17: 0
2015-16: 2 (both 4 games)
2014-15: 1 (8 games)
2013-14: 0
2012-13: 0
2011-12: 0
2010-11: 1 (4 games)
2009-10: 0
2008-09: 0
2007-08: 0
2006-07: 2 (4 games and 5 games)
2005-06: 0
2004-05: 0
2003-04: 0
2002-03: 0
2001-02: 1 (4 games)
2000-01: 1 (4 games)
1999-00: 0

Meanwhile, back on Saturday night…

In case you haven’t heard, Saturday night in the Mountain West produced some big news for the league, and all of college basketball, really.

UNLV upset previously undefeated No. 4 San Diego State, 66-63, at Viejas Arena, ending the perfect season for the Aztecs.

Around the Mountain

There was just one game Sunday in the Mountain West and four on Saturday:

SUNDAY
• Boise State 74, New Mexico 71

SATURDAY
• UNLV 66, No. 4 San Diego State 63
• Colorado State 78, San Jose State 71
• Wyoming 78, Air Force 72
• Nevada 78, Fresno State 76

Final week schedule

The final week of the Mountain West regular season is upon us. Here’s a look at both the midweek and weekend games:

TUESDAY
• Nevada at Wyoming, 6 PT/7 MT
• Colorado State at San Diego State, 8 PT/9 MT
• San Jose State at Utah State, 8 PT/9 MT

WEDNESDAY
• New Mexico at Air Force, 6 PT/7 MT
• Boise State at UNLV, 8 PT/9 MT

SATURDAY
• Air Force at Colorado State, 1 PT/2 MT
• UNLV at San Jose State, 2 PT/3 MT
• Wyoming at Fresno State, 4 PT/5 MT
• San Diego State at Nevada, 4 PT/6 MT
• Utah State at New Mexico, 7 PT/8 MT

Mountain West standings

Through Sunday, here are the Mountain West standings:

15-1 San Diego State
11-5 Utah State
11-5 Nevada
11-6 Boise St
10-6 UNLV
10-6 Colorado St
6-10 New Mexico
6-11 Fresno St
4-12 Air Force
3-13 San Jose St
2-14 Wyoming
*Clinched Mountain West championship

Plant a seed

With a week to go, the Lobos are playing for either the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the Mountain West Tournament with Fresno State getting the other one. Both have six wins with Fresno State having one more loss.

UNM’s games this week are at Air Force and vs. Utah State. Fresno State hosts Wyoming on Saturday.

It’s long been thought the preferred slot would be the No. 7 seed because it places the team in the 7/10 play-in game on the opposite side of the bracket from San Diego State. But maybe that’s not the best spot in anymore.

The Aztecs already cliched the MWC’s No. 1 seed and with its loss on Saturday isn’t playing for much anymore before the NCAA Tournament, which they are a lock to be in and be seeded very high. Maybe their MWC quarterfinal game against the winner of the 8/9 game isn’t as daunting as once thought.

The potential No. 2 seed in the MWC is a Utah State team that is arguably playing better than SDSU right now and still very much trying to play its way into the NCAA Tournament. The No. 2 seed will play the winner of the 7/10 play-in game.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque…

It was a couple days ago now, but for the weekday crowd who hasn’t heard, after the Lobos women’s team cut the lead to 73-72 in the Pit against preseason favorite Boise State on Saturday, things didn’t go great. UNM lost 95-76.

Here was the game story colleague Ken Sickenger filed from the Pit on Saturday:

Plus/minus

Here are the plus/minus numbers for the Lobos from Sunday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+4 Emmanuel Kuac (18:06)
+1 Keith McGee (19:08)
-1 Zane Martin (13:16)
-7 Jordan Arroyo (14:14)
-8 Tavian Percy (12:47)
-9 JaQuan Lyle (33:43)
-9 Makuach Maluach (20:03)
-10 Corey Manigault (14:32)
-11 Kurt Wegscheider (19:52)
-15 Vance Jackson (34:19)

Another number to know: 0.88

UNM was held to just 0.88 points per possession in Sunday’s 65-possession game at Boise State. That is the fifth lowest PPP of the season for UNM.

UNM has been held under 1.0 points per possession in just 10 of 29 games this season and is 2-8 in those games.

Box score

There was a correction after the initial box score was released to press row after Sunday’s game. Here is a picture of the box score released to media on press row BEFORE the corrections (most notable for UNM is Vance Jackson ended up with 19 points and JaQuan Lyle with 6 while Boise State’s RJ Williams had 17 rebounds, not 16).

And for those who prefer the digital, and I believe correct version, CLICK HERE.

Video: Paul Weir postgame interview

Here is the postgame interview with Paul Weir after Sunday’s road loss at Boise State:

Attendance

The announced attendance at ExtraMile Arena on Sunday: 5,809

Grammer’s Guesses

It was a family affair on Sunday, with me, my 10-year-old daughter’s coin flip and my 6-month-old daughter’s trusty grab the toy method of picking games all going with the Lobos getting the benefit of +10 points against the Broncos.

All three of us missed that as the Lobos lost by 13 points.

That brings my pathetic record against the spread this season to 37-45-3.

My 10-year-old daughter and her lucky coin is now at 42-40-3.

My 6-month-old daughter and her trusty method of grabbing a toy from my left hand (home team) or right hand (road team) is now 9-8 on the season.

Until next time…

Until next time, ExtraMile Arena (formerly Taco Bell Arena) on the campus of Boise State University…


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